Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Electronic Engineering

First Advisor

Fergus O'Reilly

Second Advisor

Kieran Delaney


The purpose of this project was to develop a functional prototype of a container management and monitoring system, which allows identification and tracking of shipping containers in a port terminal from the moment they enter a port to when they depart for their final destination.

Such system can significantly reduce the labor and time costs associated with organizational mistakes that can occur when containers are being on/off-loaded, moved and stacked in tiers for transfer to the rail or road network. It can be used to streamline the container transport, optimize the order of container on/off-loading and placement, as well as assist in locating any misplaced containers.

The developed prototype system uses Wireless Sensor Network (WSX) modules as intelligent container tags. The container tags form an ad-hoc, multihop, selfconfiguring and healing wireless network once deployed in a container yard. This facilitates a remote access to each individual container tag from any place in the yard. User access is enabled through a Graphical User Interface (GUI) running on a handheld mobile device (Personal Digital Assistant). A user can access (read or update) the detailed container information (stored locally on the container tag) from a remote location, and if necessary, physically locate the container. Container Tags have been programmed using a state-of-the-art WSN operating system — Tiny OS, and the PDA GUI has been developed on the .NET Compact Framework.

This system can either substitute or complement other currently used container management systems, such as Machine Vision or Radio Frequency Identification systems. Also, when considered a generic tracking/management platform, it can be used for broad range of applications, from asset tracking (supply chain management, parcel/distribution services, cold storage/palletized goods) through people tracking (for healthcare applications, personal security, workflow optimization) to event tracking (security breach detection, early disaster detection — flood, fire etc.).

Access Level